TPR Notebook: Rays Take Series From Yankees | The Process Report

TPR Notebook: Rays Take Series From Yankees

The Rays defeated the Yankees 3-0  on Wednesday night to complete a 5-1 homestand. Following a weekend sweep of the Athletics, Tampa Bay took two of three from their American League East rivals – including their major-league leading fifth shutout of the season. The Rays outscored their opponents 28-9 during the six-game stretch.

Monday:

Continuing where he left off against the Orioles, Matt Moore allowed one run in eight innings against the Yankees. He struck out nine batters, walked three, and allowed just two hits. With several notable starters on the disabled list, Yankees’ skipper Joe Girardi is a bit handcuffed when it comes to filling out his lineup card. Whether it was because of  limited options or Girardi picking up on Moore’s slightly reverse splits, New York started four left-handed batters versus the Rays’ lefty.

Last year, I touched on Moore’s issues with left-handed batters; particularly with fastball command on the outside corner. Moore stands on the extreme third base side of the rubber which may or may not factor in to the equation. Nevertheless, Moore’s fastball command was much improved versus the quartet of Yankees’ lefties. He worked both sides of the plate with the heater, earning a strike on 60 percent of fastballs thrown to lefties. This includes a season’s best 42 percent called strike rate. As a byproduct of spotting the heater on the corners, he avoided the middle of the plate.

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Lefties (or as Joe Pawlikowski points out – a lefty named Robinson Cano) still accounted for both of the hits against Moore – including a Cano home run – and two of the three walks, but the process was improved even if the results were not all positive.

Against right-handers, Moore went to his three-pitch medley, working in the changeup and breaking ball. Both secondary pitches were sharp, combining for seven of the nine strikeouts. Moore worked down and away with both pitches and coaxed eight whiffs off of 13 swings against the slower stuff.

Offensively, the Rays were paced by their infielders, who recorded six of the team’s seven hits. Yunel Escobar hit his second home run of the season and Ryan Roberts went 3-4 including two home runs against Yankees’ starter CC Sabathia. R.J. Anderson spoke about Sean Rodriguez’s possibly improve plate discipline on Wednesday, but Rodriguez isn’t the only one showing improvement in this area.

In 2012, Roberts chased at pitches out of the strike zone nearly a quarter of the time. This jumped to around 30 percent when he was behind the count and up near 35 percent with two strikes. This season, he is chasing pitches less than 20 percent of the time overall. In counts favoring the pitcher, and those with two-strikes, his chase rate sits around 22 percent. All the small sample caveats apply, but it is something to keep an eye on.

Tuesday:

David Price took the only loss of the homestand as the Yankees rallied late against Rays’ closer Fernando Rodney. Five starts into the 2013, Price has not pitched well, but he has not pitched poorly either. Against the Yankees, he worked eight innings, allowing three runs on eight hits (all singles). He did not walk a batter and struck out five. Of the 99 pitches he threw, 71 went for strikes including 11 swing and misses. Pitchers tend to win those types of games.

Right-handed batters continue to see the ball well against Price. On Tuesday, they went 5-for-16 (.313). Overall, righties are hitting .333/.376/.575 this season against him. The bulk of the damage has come on the outer half of the plate; something that continued against the Yankees.

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Last year, Price owned the outer half of the plate against right-handers (.608 OPS). This season, he has been up a bit more and a tick toward the middle of the zone. The issue, however, seems minor and something Price should be able to overcome rather easily.

Wednesday:

As a changeup artist with a low-90s fastball, a good curveball, and the ability to go deep into games, Alex Cobb is going to continue to draw comparisons to James Shields. He looked very Shields-like on Wednesday when he pitched into the ninth inning, allowing no runs on three hits and a walk. He struck out seven with three of those coming off the changeup.

After the game, both Cobb and Rays’ manager Joe Maddon commented on the pitcher’s fastball command; specifically how it allows his other pitches to flourish. Cobb threw 52 fastballs with 37 falling for strikes. Of those 37 strikes, 21 were called strikes. The bulk of those were located glove-side or inside versus lefties and away from righties.

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Cobb then worked arm-side with his secondary stuff. This is where he earned all nine of his swing and misses. Going back to Shields for a second, Cobb is set to face the former Rays’ ace on Tuesday in Kansas City.

Data and images courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info



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